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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who and the Silurians
(Original BBC TV Soundtrack)

Starring: Jon Pertwee and Caroline John
BBC Audio
RRP: £16.99
ISBN: 978 1 4056 7682 3
Available 07 January 2008

The Brigadier summons the Doctor and Liz Shaw, to a new facility at Wenley Moor. The building is a new type of power station, but oddly enough there appears to be something wrong with the staff. Investigating nearby caves the Doctor discovers the Silurian race that has been in hibernation for millions of years and now wants their planet back from the uppity ape decedents. To aid them in their plans to take over the Earth, they release a deadly virus...

To coincide with the BBC’s release of the Silurian themed Doctor Who DVD box set, Beneath the Surface, BBC audio has released audio versions of the same shows.

Once more Jon Pertwee plays the Doctor with Caroline John as the companion Liz Shaw. If that wasn’t enough for you the show also stars "five rounds rapid" Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, whose upper lip was so stiff it extended to his forehead. One interesting thing about this release is that if you missed out on the Monsters on Earth tin set, then this is the first time that this story has been available as a stand-alone. Another first for the show, though it is immaterial to this release, was the introduction of the Doctors new vehicle Bessie - which can be seen stuck, as an apparent after-thought, on the cover artwork.

As with all the other television adaptations, the audio has been lifted from the actual show with additional narration this time around being provided by Caroline John. For the most part this works well and Caroline is certainly up to the task. A nice, if presumably unintentional, bonus that occurred to me is that the music, which is often ignored or relegated to the background of consciousness, seems to drift much further into the foreground adding much to the shows feel.

This was originally broadcast in 1970 as a seven part story, so is the longest of the Silurian/Sea Devil tales, as such the audio is spread across three CD’s with a combined running time of three hours and ten minutes. By way of a bonus, because everything has to come with a bonus these days, Caroline John also recalls her time as Liz Shaw and the making of Silurians. This runs to a satisfying nineteen minutes and forty-two seconds. At the end of disc two there is another extra, not mentioned on the cover sleeve, in the form of an item from BBC Radio 4's Today Program about the Derbyshire Caves (2 min 23sec).

Usually with reviews of this nature there is not much to say about the cover. Not so with the Silurians which is, hopefully, unintentionally funny. First off there is the menacing and potentially manly Silurian whose privates have been covered up, very reminiscent of some foreign publications from the seventies. Maybe this is on purpose to give the cover that authentic retro feel. Worse still... just what is that dinosaur doing to the Doctor? God only knows! Though, by the look on his face, they should make a happy couple. And the miner, who has a better vantage point on the action, appears to have fainted from the shock of it all.

Overall Silurian works well as an audio and should please fans of the show - both old and new.


Charles Packer

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